Jack Higgins

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Jack Higgins
BornHenry Patterson
(1929-07-27) 27 July 1929 (age 85)
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Alma materLondon School of Economics
GenreThriller, espionage, mystery
Notable works
Years active1959–present
  • Amy Hewett Patterson
  • Denise Higgins
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For the editorial cartoonist, see Jack Higgins (cartoonist). For the footballer, see Jack Higgins (Gaelic footballer).
Jack Higgins
BornHenry Patterson
(1929-07-27) 27 July 1929 (age 85)
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Alma materLondon School of Economics
GenreThriller, espionage, mystery
Notable works
Years active1959–present
  • Amy Hewett Patterson
  • Denise Higgins

Jack Higgins (born 27 July 1929) is the principal pseudonym of British novelist Harry Patterson. He is one of the best-selling authors of popular thrillers and espionage novels. His breakthrough novel The Eagle Has Landed (1975) sold over 50 million copies[1] and was adapted into a successful film by the same title.[2] Some of his other notable books are A Prayer for the Dying (1987), The Eagle Has Flown (1991), Thunder Point (1993), Angel of Death (1995), Flight of Eagles (1998), and Day of Reckoning (2000).[1] His 83 novels in total have sold over 150 million copies and have been translated into 55 languages.[3]


Early life[edit]

Jack Higgins was born Henry Patterson[4] on 27 July 1929 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.[1] After his father abandoned him soon after he was born, his Irish mother returned with him to her home town of Belfast, Northern Ireland, to live with her mother and grandfather on Shankill Road.[1] Raised amid the religious and political violence of Belfast, Harry learned to read at the age of three, when he was tasked with reading the Christian Herald to his bed-ridden grandfather.[1] At night he would crouch beneath a window and read by the light of the street lamps.

I read Oliver Twist when I was six. Not because it was a classic, but because it was a book that was available. I probably didn't understand everything in it—for years I used to pronounce the word rogue as rogger—but I didn't care. I just loved reading.[1]

After his mother remarried, the family moved to Leeds, where Harry attended the local Roundhay grammar school. He proved to be an indifferent student, and left school with few formal qualifications. In the early 1950s, he joined the army and served as an non-commissioned officer in the Household Cavalry in the East Yorkshires near the East German border for two years.[1] During his military service, Harry discovered that he possessed both considerable sharpshooting skills and considerable intelligence.

After leaving the army, he returned to London to study sociology at London School of Economics while supporting himself as a driver and laborer at night. He chose the school for its "history of nonconformism".[1] He received his third class degree in sociology after three years of study.[1] After getting a teaching qualification, took a job lecturing in social psychology and criminology at Allerton Grange Secondary School Leeds.[1] He later taught liberal studies at Leeds Polytechnic, and later education at James Graham College, which became part of Leeds Polytechnic in 1976.

Writing career[edit]

In 1959, Higgins began writing novels.[1] One of his aliases was James Graham. The growing success of his early work allowed him to take time off from his teaching, and he eventually left the classroom to become a full-time novelist. He currently lives in Jersey, in the Channel Islands, and continues to publish a new novel annually.[citation needed]

Patterson's early novels, written under his own name as well as under the pseudonyms James Graham, Martin Fallon, and Hugh Marlowe, are brisk, competent, but essentially forgettable thrillers that typically feature hardened, cynical heroes, ruthless villains, and dangerous locales. Patterson published thirty-five such novels (sometimes three or four a year) between 1959 and 1974, learning his craft. East of Desolation (1968), A Game for Heroes (1970) and The Savage Day (1972) stand out among his early work for their vividly drawn settings (Greenland, the Channel Islands, and Belfast, respectively) and offbeat plots.

Patterson began using the pseudonym Jack Higgins in the late 1960s; his first minor bestsellers appeared in the early 1970s, two contemporary thrillers The Savage Day and A Prayer For The Dying[5] but it was the publication of his thirty sixth book, The Eagle Has Landed, in 1975, that made Higgins' reputation. The Eagle Has Landed represented a step forward in the length and depth of Patterson's work. Its plot (concerned with a German commando unit sent into England to kidnap Winston Churchill) was fresh and innovative (although the plot is clearly reminiscent of Alberto Cavalcanti's wartime film Went the Day Well?, which itself was directly based on the 1942 Graham Greene short story The Lieutenant Died Last), and the characters had significantly more depth than in his earlier work. One in particular stood out: Irish gunman, poet, and philosopher Liam Devlin. Higgins followed The Eagle Has Landed with a series of equally ambitious thrillers, including several (Touch the Devil, Confessional, The Eagle Has Flown) featuring return appearances by Devlin.

The third phase of Patterson's career began with the publication of Eye of the Storm in 1992, a fictionalized retelling of an unsuccessful mortar attack on Prime Minister John Major by a ruthless young Irish gunman-philosopher named Sean Dillon, hired by an Iraqi millionaire. Cast as the central character over the next series of novels, it is apparent that Dillon is in many ways an amalgamation of Patterson's previous heroes — Chavasse with his flair for languages, Nick Miller's familiarity with martial arts and jazz keyboard skills, Simon Vaughan's Irish roots, facility with firearms and the cynicism that comes with assuming the responsibility of administering a justice unavailable through a civilized legal system.

Personal life[edit]

Higgins met his future wife Amy Hewett while both were studying at the London School of Economics.[4] They were married in 1958, shortly after receiving a $210 advance for his first novel—"the biggest wedding present we could have had."[4] They have four children: Sarah (born 1960), Ruth (born 1962), Sean (born 1965) and Hannah (born 1974).[4][6] Their daughter Sarah Patterson has also worked as a writer, penning the novel The Distant Summer (1976).[7] Higgins lives on Jersey in the Channel Islands with his second wife, Denise.[1][8]


YearTitle[9]Writing asFeaturingPublisherNotes
1959Sad Wind from the SeaHarry PattersonMark HagenJohn Long
1960Cry of the HunterHarry PattersonMartin FallonJohn Long
1961The Thousand Faces of NightHarry PattersonHugh MarlowJohn Long
1962Comes the Dark StrangerHarry PattersonMartin ShaneJohn Long
1962Hell Is Too CrowdedHarry PattersonMatthew BradyJohn Long
1962The Testament of Caspar SchultzMartin FallonPaul ChavasseAbelard-SchumanThe Bormann Testament
1963The Dark Side of the IslandHarry PattersonHugh LomaxFawcett
1963Pay the DevilHarry PattersonClay FitzgeraldBarrie & Rockliffe
1963Seven Pillars to HellHugh MarloweGavin KaneAbelard-SchumanSheba
1963Year of the TigerMartin FallonPaul ChavasseAbelard-Schuman
1964Passage by NightHugh MarloweHarry ManningAbelard-Schuman
1964A Phoenix in the BloodHarry PattersonJay Williams
1964Thunder at NoonHarry PattersonJohn DillingerRevised in 1983 as Dillinger
1964Wrath of the LionHarry Patterson
1965The Graveyard ShiftHarry PattersonNick Miller
1965The Keys of HellMartin FallonPaul Chavasse
1966A Candle for the DeadHugh MarloweSean RoganThe Violent Enemy
1966The Iron TigerJack HigginsJack Drummond
1966Midnight Never ComesMartin FallonPaul Chavasse
1966The Violent EnemyHugh MarloweSean RoganA Candle for the Dead
1967Brought in DeadHarry PattersonNick Miller
1967Dark Side of the StreetMartin FallonHarry Youngblood
1968East of DesolationJack HigginsJoe MartinBerkley
1968Hell Is Always TodayHarry PattersonNick Miller
1969A Fine Night for DyingMartin FallonPaul Chavasse
1969In the Hour Before MidnightJack HigginsStacy WyattThe Sicilian Heritage
1969The Sicilian HeritageJack HigginsStacy WyattIn the Hour Before Midnight
1970A Game for HeroesJames GrahamOwen Morgan
1970Night Judgement at SinosJack HigginsJack Savage
1971The Last Place God MadeJack HigginsSam Hannah
1971Toll for the BraveJack HigginsEllis Jackson
1971The Wrath of GodJames GrahamEmmet Kogh
1972The Khufra RunJames GrahamJack Nelson
1972The Savage DayJack HigginsHolt
1973A Prayer for the DyingJack HigginsMartin FallonHolt
1974The Run to MorningMartin FallonOliver GrantBloody Passage
1975The Eagle Has LandedJack HigginsLiam DevlinHolt
1976Storm WarningJack HigginsHolt
1977The Valhalla ExchangeJack HigginsHamilton Canning
1978Day of JudgementMartin FallonSimon VaughanHolt
1979The Judas GateJack HigginsWalter Schellenberg
1979To Catch a KingHarry PattersonWalter Schellenberg
1980SoloJack HigginsAsa MorganStein and DayThe Cretan Lover
1981Luciano's LuckJack HigginsHarry CarterStein and Day
1982Touch the DevilJack HigginsLiam DevlinStein and Day
1983DillingerJack HigginsJohn DillingerThunder at Noon revised and reissued
1983ExocetJack HigginsCharles FergusonStein and Day
1985ConfessionalJack HigginsLiam DevlinStein and Day
1986Night of the FoxJack HigginsHarry MartineauSimon & Schuster
1989Memoirs of a Dance Hall RomeoJack HigginsSimon & Schuster
1989A Season in HellJack HigginsTonny VilliersSimon & Schuster
1990Cold HarbourJack HigginsDougal MunroSimon & Schuster
1990The Eagle Has FlownJack HigginsLiam DevlinSimon & Schuster
1992Eye of the StormJack HigginsSean DillonPutnamMidnight Man
1993Thunder PointJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam
1994On Dangerous GroundJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam
1994ShebaJack HigginsGavin KaneBerkley
1995Angel of DeathJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam
1995The Morgan ScoreJack HigginsAsa Morgan
1996Drink with the DevilJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam
1996Year of the Tiger 1996Jack HigginsPaul ChavasseBerkley
1997The President's DaughterJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam
1998Flight of EaglesJack HigginsHarry KelsoPutnam
1999The White House ConnectionJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam
2000Day of ReckoningJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam
2001Edge of DangerJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam
2002The Keys of HellJack HigginsHarperCollins
2002Midnight RunnerJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam
2003Bad CompanyJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam
2004Dark JusticeJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam
2005Without MercyJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam
2006The Bormann TestamentJack Higgins
2006Sure FireJack HigginsPutnamWith Justin Richards
2007The Killing GroundJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam
2007Rough JusticeJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam
2008Death RunJack HigginsPutnamWith Justin Richards
2009A Darker PlaceJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam
2009First StrikeJack HigginsPutnamWith Justin Richards
2009Sharp ShotJack HigginsPutnamWith Justin Richards
2009The Wolf at the DoorJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam
2010The Judas GateJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam
2012A Devil is WaitingJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam
2014The Death TradeJack HigginsSean DillonPutnam


YearTitleWriting asDirectorStarringNotes
1967The Violent EnemyHugh MarloweDon SharpTom BellFrom the novel A Candle for the Dead
1972The Wrath of GodJames GrahamRalph NelsonRobert Mitchum
1976The Eagle Has LandedJack HigginsJohn SturgesDonald Sutherland
1984To Catch a KingHarry PattersonClive DonnerRobert WagnerTelevision film
1987A Prayer for the DyingJack HigginsMike HodgesMickey Rourke
1989ConfessionalJack HigginsKeith CarradineTelevision series, 4 episodes
1990Night of the FoxJack HigginsCharles JarrottGeorge PeppardTelevision film
1996On Dangerous GroundJack HigginsLawrence Gordon ClarkRob LoweTelevision film
1996Windsor ProtocolJack HigginsGeorge MihalkaKyle MacLachlanTelevision film
1997Midnight ManJack HigginsLawrence Gordon ClarkRob LoweTelevision film, from the novel Eye of the Storm
1998Thunder PointJack HigginsGeorge MihalkaKyle MacLachlanTelevision film


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Crace, John (30 July 2010). "A Life in Writing: Jack Higgins". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Canby, Vincent (26 March 1977). "The Eagle Has Landed (1976)". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "Author Interview: Jack Higgins". HarperCollins. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d Hauptfuhrer, Fred (17 January 1977). "The Eagle Has Landed Jack Higgins in a High Tax Bracket ...". People (New York: Time, Inc.) 7 (2). Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  5. ^ Harpercollins.ca
  6. ^ Higgins, Jack (2010). Confessional. Open Road Media. ISBN 978-1480479449. 
  7. ^ Patterson, Sarah (1976). The Distant Summer. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0671222574. 
  8. ^ Swaim, Don (16 January 1987). "Audio Interview with Jack Higgins". Wired for Books. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "Jack Higgins Homepage: Books". Scintilla. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 

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